Adaptable mandates with clear transition planning are essential for successful peacekeeping operations, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today, as it concluded its annual general debate on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.
“The Security Council needs a clear vision of what is a sufficiently stable end-state,” said the United Kingdom’s representative, calling for benchmarks to ensure that mandates are realistic, achievable and context-specific. Transitions need better planning, with coordination across all relevant United Nations bodies and with host Governments, he added, emphasizing that that host countries must have the means and be ready to sustain peace.
In similar vein, Algeria’s delegate stressed that strategic reviews must ensure that peacekeeping operations remain fit for purpose, conducting proper analysis in an independent and transparent manner to guarantee that mandates are adequately designed and resourced. Moreover, such reviews must consider whether the operations in question were able to uphold their initial mandates.
A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the principle of “do no harm” should be the primary directive when protecting those at risk. Peacekeepers must be fully cognizant of the legal framework applicable to the protection of civilians, she added, emphasizing that protection of health care should be considered an essential part of any peacekeeping mandate. She went on to describe detention by peacekeeping missions as a reality to be acknowledged, while pointing out that the detention-related activities of peacekeeping missions are handled in a reactive way and remain underfunded with limited capacities.
The representative of the United States said peacekeeping missions must support political solutions and adjust to progress and failure. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative, she said her delegation has long supported reform in that area. “When we stand together, we can make great strides to improve peacekeeping around the world,” she declared, noting that peacekeepers are asked to protect the most vulnerable civilians and to re-establish the rule of law in the midst of conflict. “Their sacrifices are as real as their work is essential.”
Echoing that sentiment, the representative of Bangladesh emphasized: “Safety and security of peacekeepers must be considered an article of faith,” adding that their performance must be seen in a holistic manner, encompassing the need for clear, achievable mandates and adequate resources. The question of resources remains fundamental to operational efficiency and effectiveness, he said, expressing concern over current cost-cutting trends and calling for maturity and shared commitment in that regard.
Representatives of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, France, Honduras and Sudan also delivered statements.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 5 November, to begin its comprehensive review of special political missions.
MAJED AL-ZOUWAYMEL (Saudi Arabia), urging support for peacekeeping operations, welcomed the Secretary-General’s reform proposals, saying that his delegation has also supported efforts by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to resolve regional problems. He appealed to regional organizations to participate in peacekeeping and the maintenance of international security. Saudi Arabia is doing its part by making financial contributions to cover troop expenses and responding to appeals for humanitarian assistance, he said, citing its efforts in helping the State of Palestine, Lebanon, Somalia and Syria. Saudi Arabia has also committed €100 million in logistical support for the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5-Sahel). Convinced of the importance of sustainable development, the country has also contributed financially towards reducing developing-country debt in the amount of $6 billion, he noted.
MARGARITA PALAU-HERNANDEZ (United States) said that peacekeeping missions must support political solutions and adjust to progress and failure. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative, she said her delegation has long supported reform in that area. “When we stand together, we can make great strides to improve peacekeeping around the world,” she observed. Peacekeepers are asked to protect the most vulnerable civilians and to re-establish the rule of law in the midst of conflict, she said, adding: “Their sacrifices are as real as their work is essential.” Welcoming the Secretary-General’s commitment to holding peacekeepers accountable, including through repatriation, she emphasized that there should be no tolerance of those who prey on others. Sexual exploitation and abuse remain a scourge on peacekeeping, she said, stressing the importance of considering the conduct of troops as a factor in future deployment decisions.
AGNES COUTOU, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the principle of “do no harm” should be the primary directive when protecting those at risk. When using force, peacekeepers must be fully cognizant of the legal framework applicable to the protection of civilians, she added. When setting up community alert networks, peacekeeping operations must engage communities in a safe manner, and mission resources must be focused on activities in which peacekeepers are the only ones able to deliver protection outcomes. Protection of health care should be considered an essential part of the peacekeeping mandate, she said, pointing out that peacekeepers can make a positive contribution by searching for, collecting and evacuating the sick and wounded even if they are not considered a party to the conflict.
Peacekeepers can also provide security perimeters around health facilities at risk of attack, she continued, emphasizing the essential need to ensure respect for the applicable legal framework. During predeployment sessions in 2017, ICRC briefed more than 25,000 peacekeepers on international humanitarian law, she recalled. Noting that detention by peacekeeping missions is a reality to be acknowledged, she said that although it is an ordinary occurrence, it is handled in a reactive way, adding that the detention-related activities of peacekeeping missions remain underfunded with limited capacities. ICRC recently published a report, “The Roots of Restraint in War”, that identifies sources of influence on various types of armed forces and groups, including those embedded within communities, she said, expressing hope that the study will support the efforts of States and peacekeeping operations to better carry out their mandates in conflict areas.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) said that sequenced and prioritized peacekeeping mandates call for frank and realistic reporting to the Security Council, taking into account the mission’s full life cycle. “The Security Council needs a clear vision of what is a sufficiently stable end-state,” he said, adding that it also requires benchmarks to ensure that mandates are realistic, achievable and context-specific. Transitions need better planning, with coordination across all relevant United Nations bodies and with host Governments, he said. While structural reforms will help, behavioural change and better coordinated funding are also needed, he said, requesting that the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations look at the issue of transition more closely during its next session. To ensure a successful transition, host countries must have the means and be ready to sustain peace, he stressed.
ASMA AL-HAMMADI (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, welcomed efforts to make peacekeeping operations more effective, expressing her delegation’s support for the Action for Peacekeeping initiative and the Action for Peacekeeping Declaration. Noting that her country participates in global peacekeeping efforts through military contributions intended to address terrorism, she said it provided €30 million for the Joint Force for the G5-Sahel. Emphasizing that political solutions are vital for sustaining peace, she cited the resolution of the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia as a good example. She went on to note that the United Arab Emirates has stepped up development assistance to various countries, including Yemen. Underscoring the importance of involving women and young people in peacekeeping, she reported that her country signed an agreement with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), establishing focal points in Abu Dhabi and working to strengthen the role of women in the military sphere.
JEAN-HUGUES SIMON-MICHEL (France) said peacekeeping has come to the end of a cycle and must evolve in order to better address everyday challenges. The Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping reform initiative has enjoyed broad support, he added, noting that such efforts can only be accomplished through voluntary action with a long-term focus. Emphasizing the importance of improving contingent performance, including through training that guarantees effectiveness and prevents certain issues, particularly sexual exploitation and abuse, he said France trains 30,000 peacekeepers from Francophone countries every year and will continue to do so. He expressed support for the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, which his country intends to promote.
ZAKIA IGHIL (Algeria) emphasized that peacekeeping operations must be provided with focused, prioritized, sequenced and achievable mandates with clear exit strategies and adequate resources. They must also be reinforced by political support and include a human rights component. Strategic reviews must ensure that operations remain fit for purpose, conducting proper analysis in an independent and transparent manner to guarantee that mandates are adequately designed and resourced. Moreover, such reviews must consider whether the operations in question were able to achieve their initial mandates, she said. Noting the persistence of sexual exploitation and abuse, she expressed support for the zero-tolerance policy, specifically in terms of strengthening prevention, enforcement, reporting and remedial actions to ensure greater accountability. She also called for enhancing the capacity of the African Union’s peace and security architecture, including by providing predictable, sustainable and flexible financing to its peace support operations.
YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said efforts to reform peacekeeping must be a joint effort, and emphasized the importance of adequate resourcing in carrying out mandates. Endorsing the Action for Peace Declaration, she said the initiative will strengthen efforts in the peace and security pillar of the United Nations and improve the security and protection of peacekeeping personnel. Honduras contributes to various peacekeeping operations, she said, urging Member States to ensure that people are not criminalized for fleeing conflict-ridden countries and regions. Preventive diplomacy and effective dialogue based on the United Nations Charter are the best ways to achieve sustained peace, she emphasized. Noting the link between peace and development, she said the Sustainable Development Goals will only be achieved when sustained peace prevails.
HUSNI MUSTAFA YAGOUB HUSNI (Sudan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of three main peacekeeping principles — consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defence. Regarding consent, he recalled that United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) was established on the basis of an agreement — signed by Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan — stipulating that Abyei would be administered jointly by those three States. However, while Sudan has met its commitments, the other parties have not, he noted. The agreement should not be replaced by United Nations entities without the consent of the relevant parties, and the Security Council should not impose recommendations, he emphasized. The recommendations from the review of UNISFA must be approved by the relevant signatories before implementation, he stressed, calling the mission’s reconfiguration to include police a violation of consent and a “death sentence” for the original agreement. Regarding progress on the exit strategy for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the transition towards peacebuilding, he said there is evidence that Darfur is recovering and that Sudan is shouldering its responsibility and working for development and peace in its western region. He also recalled efforts by the Government of Sudan to bring the parties to the conflict in South Sudan to the negotiating table.
FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Action for Peacekeeping agenda has reinforced shared commitments in terms of the growing strain on peacekeeping resources. Those commitments must lead to outcomes for change, he said, noting that, together with the Netherlands, his country has begun facilitating a process to involve civil society in monitoring and evaluating peacekeeping operations. “Safety and security of peacekeepers must be considered an article of faith,” he said, emphasizing that their performance must be seen in a holistic manner, encompassing the need for clear, achievable mandates and adequate resources. The emphasis on rapid deployment has led to innovations, including the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System, he said, adding that his country has been adapting to the system. Describing the Environment Strategy of the Department of Field Support as an important blueprint for action, he said the idea of “smart missions” must be matched by adequate resources, adding that Bangladesh will continue working on that issue under the remit of a group-of-friends effort. Stressing that the question of resources remains fundamental to operational efficiency and effectiveness, he expressed concern over current cost-cutting trends and called for maturity and shared commitment in that regard.